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What I have in common with Jimmy Stewart

by Ron Holdraker
December 18, 2021

We made our annual trip to New York City for Broadway plays. This time, under very strict COVID protocols. We saw three musicals, and on Sunday night, went to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music hall.

First, I was surprised that every hotel, restaurant and play checked everybody’s COVID card and ID. I was also surprised how many New Yorkers wore masks even outside.

Enough about Broadway. 

Before we got to the Radio City Music Hall I was feeling a bit yucky and my eyes were playing hallucinatory tricks on me. After dinner and back at the hotel at about 10:30 p.m.  on Sunday.

At 2:20 a.m. on Monday I got up to go to the bathroom. The room was spinning and I could not stand up. I woke Wife Patti and she tried to get me on my feet. We finally made it to the bathroom, and the trip back to bed was nauseating, literally.

At 5:15 a.m. I awoke and the room was again in a dizzy tizzy, confused and  nauseated state. Wife Patti thought she should call an ambulance, but I objected, not wanting to get caught up in the New York City hospital system.

We were to be picked up at the hotel at 7 a.m. for the ride to JFK for our return trip to Rochester. Not knowing if it was a stroke, or something similar, I decided she should just hold me up the best she could so we could get on the plane. We succeeded. Wife Patti was concerned about what a plane ride at 22,000 feet would do if it was indeed a stroke.

I slept the whole 48 minute flight and told her we should go to the hospital, something was definitely going bad. I knew it was not COVID since I had been tested and had the full range of shots and booster.

My daughter-in-law and “medical advisor” Christy, insisted we drive immediately to Rochester General, since she had called Newark-Wayne, described by symptoms and they insisted I go to RGH.

Upon arrival at Rochester General, a patient must go through a tent-like structure to a huge waiting area. There, hospital personnel do a triage and get relevant info.

From there, I was moved into a pre-fab building where a more extensive examination occurred. Then it was on to hell.

Patients, due to the current COVID plague are moved into a holding pattern. In my case I was bed #28 in a hallway of moaning, crying, people, some with COVID, others with maladies of every description.

Hours went by before the next move  and triage, deeper into the actual hospital. I was moved to another hallway, this time in the #6 position. Hours passed as nerves of patients and hospital personnel seemed to waiver on insanity.

This included drunks found passed out in parks and an assortment of weird maladies, infused with a few real wacko jobs.

By the way, if you end up as a ‘hallway boy/girl’ you do learn numerous technical terms and rolling computer tests and how they handle patient bathroom requests. You also hear a lot of gossip over which staff members are doing the ‘dirty’ with each other and which co-workers the rest  of the staff they really hate.

They finally found a room for me on the 7th floor. The trip by wheelchair proved too much and extreme vomiting followed. I had been elevated from ‘hallway boy’ to ‘bile boy’ by one of the nursing staff. Thinking a possible stroke, I was immediately taken in for  various brain scans, MRIs, etc.  Landing finally in a double room, I was considered one of the lucky ones.

I had nothing to eat, or drink for 36 hours, not that I was begging for food. After numerous tellings of what had occurred and all the tests, they determined it was not a stroke.

The prognosis was, however, shocking. After a bunch of mumble-jumble technical terms the doctors feel it was a case of VERTIGO.

I always though vertigo was just a movie about a dizzy head spinning detective (the Jimmy Stewart connection from the Alfred Hitchock directed movie VERTIGO’) and not a real medical malady. Every time I looked up, the spinning would overtake my body and nausea would result. Funny, I never saw Jimmy Stewart heave in the movie.

Come to find out, Vertigo causes dizziness and makes you feel like you’re spinning when you’re not. This condition can occur for many reasons, but the most common cause is a problem with your inner ear. I have had five ear surgeries and two neck surgeries. Vertigo goes away on its own in many cases, but I was not so lucky. After being in the hospital for two days, I was released and put on more medication to my daily diet of prescriptions.

Hopefully, this will subside, but the reality is it can be with me throughout my sorry ass life. I must also go under physical therapy and have a list of doctor appointments lined up. I have learned how to focus, stand up, sit down and walk to hopefully avoid future occurring episodes.

The doctors at RGH agreed it was probably a good thing I decided to come back to Rochester over being lost somewhere in the New York City hospital system.

Beyond the news stories about hospital crowding and patients being treated in long stretches of hallways, I can now verify it is all true. This COVID thing is causing massive problems in rooms, treatments and staffing. It is NO joke, get vaccinated and get your boosters. Quit trying to make this a political thing, or a civil rights matter. If the governor, Board of Supervisors, Mayor, tell you to mask up, do it!

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